You’ve seen the photos. You’ve heard the stories. You’ve made the decision: you’re going to Uluru.
The excitement builds as you start planning, checking dates, distances, budgets. You can even SEE yourself sipping a glass of wine watching a perfect sunset on the massive rock.
But then… CONFUSION.
There seem to be so many different options and things to do.
Should you spend one day, two days, FIVE days at the Rock?
We’re frequent visitors to Uluru ourselves – for work trips, and weekend getaways. Figuring out how long you need at Uluru – Ayers Rock is tricky, but we’re here to help.
So here’s our…
1. You DO NOT NEED A 4WD
Ok. This tip isn’t really about time, but it IS about saving you money.
The number one MISTAKE that many visitors to Uluru make is thinking they need a big, expensive 4WD.
Sure, if you’re driving to Uluru via the Red Centre Way or the Ernest Giles Road or you’re driving other 4WD tracks in central Australia, a 4WD is what you’ll need.
But if you’ re driving from Alice Springs, Adelaide/Coober Pedy or flying in to Uluru and just looking around, save your money and hire a small, economical car.
All of the main highways to and from Ayers Rock are good bitumen roads. The roads within the Park between all major attractions are also bitumen roads.
2. Distance, Distance, Distance.
If you’re driving from Alice Springs or Watarrka (Kings Canyon) to Uluru, you need to allow yourself half a day to get there. Uluru is 450km from Alice Springs and 280km from Kings Canyon.
If you’re starting and finishing in Alice Springs (see this complete driving guide), you’ll need to add in an entire day just for travelling (half day there, half day back).
Then there are the distances at the Rock itself.
To travel from Yulara, where all the camping and accommodation is, to Uluru is 20km. There and back = 40km.
If you drive around the Rock, it’s 11km – and we’re not even factoring in the time to stop and take photos, visit the Cultural Centre, do any of the fabulous walks or other activities.
And of course, we can’t forget Kata-Tjuta…
Kata Tjuta is 50km from Ayers Rock. It takes around 35-40min travel to get there.
All of this means that you need to factor in TRAVEL TIMES when you’re planning.
Distances are huge in the outback, so you absolutely must budget enough time to allow for travel between destinations.
3. So Much to See and Do
Do you want to ride a camel, fly over the Rock, or go out ‘on country’ with Aboriginal people for a cultural experience?
And don’t forget the Sounds of Silence dinner and the AMAZING outback astronomy shows.
Plus, you’ll definitely want to catch the sunrise and sunset on the Rock. You might even like to climb Uluru, although do be aware that the Traditional Owners ask that you don’t.
There are LOTS of activities to choose from at Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park – and you’ll want to do at least a couple to make sure you really do experience the Rock’s special magic.
We recommend that you add ONE DAY minimum to your itinerary for seeing and doing the all major attractions and highlights.
If you’re planning on doing every walk in the park plus lots of guided tours, you might want to add two days.
4. Our BEST Outback Local Tip: Plan Two Nights/Three Days at Uluru
The short answer to HOW long to spend at Uluru? to get the best bang for your buck is two nights/three days.
Even Gary and I spend this long there on our weekend escapes.
Any less, and you’re actually ripping YOURSELF off: wasting your travel dollars because of the time and cost just to get to Uluru.
We don’t want to see you do that.
You see, Uluru, unlike Alice Springs, is not really on the way to ‘somewhere else’ for most people.
It’s a detour.
And an expensive one in terms of time and distance – you’re looking at over 1000km if you drive from Alice to Uluru-Kata Tjuta and back.
(Yes, if you’re driving the Gunbarrell Highway or the Great Central Road, Uluru is on the way – but many people don’t/can’t do these fantastic outback tracks).
This is why we recommend no less than 2 nights/3 days at the Rock.
If you allow yourself 2 nights/3 days at the Rock, you’ll be able to:
- catch an Uluru sunrise and sunset
- drive out to visit Kata-Tjuta
- do at least one of the incredible walks (we recommend the Mutitjulu Waterhole walk at Uluru and the Valley of the Winds at Kata Tjuta)
- visit the cultural centre
- have at least a few hours chill-out time at the Ayers Rock Resort
So, if you’re planning an Uluru adventure, allow yourself the time and space to experience this most special outback place.
Slow down, take a breath and find those 3 days to visit Uluru and Kata Tjuta – it’s the trip of a lifetime and you won’t regret it.
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